Masterchef and the ‘Sportification’ of Popular Culture… and Society

Bo Carlsson & Martin Svensson
Dept. of Sport Sciences, Malmö University

Sport has developed into an essential phenomenon in popular culture and in (post)modern society, and seems to have, which is the rational of this essay, a great deal to tell us about human life and (post)modernity. The process of sportification of popular culture is the main thrust of the argument, as well as presenting an alternative strategy for the study and understanding of the relationship between sport and society, and the influence and impact of sport. The essay does not focus on various added values, such as integration, health and economic growth. Neither is the ambition to present society’s impact on sport logics. The essay analyses, as an alternative, sport as a general (mental) horizon in society. It focuses on the sportification of popular culture, and specifically on the television reality show called Masterchef. The essay conceptualises docusoaps in light of the phenomenon of sport. In a wider perspective, initial attempts at sportification of science are also considered. Given the observed amalgamation of sport with the entertainment industry, the essay argues for a revitalisation of Guttmann’s theses, and suggests a broadened concept, in line with ‘from ritual to event(ification)’.

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BO CARLSSON is Professor of Sport Science as well as of Sociology of Law, with a particular interest in the legal culture of sport. In addition, he has a general interest in law and popular culture. Carlsson has been the editor of a number of special issues in Sport in Society, Soccer and Society and International Journal of Sport Policy and Politics. Bo Carlsson is the Academic Editor of Scandinavian Sport Studies Forum and founder (in 2003) of

MARTIN SVENSSON is a master student in Sport Science, with a particular interest in MMA, Mixed Martial Arts, and sport as  popular culture. Svensson is considered to be one of Sweden’s top MMA performers and is top ranked in Europe.


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